Archive for October 4, 2013

Did giants once live in North America?   Leave a comment

by Richard Thornton

It is a popular debate these days on paranormal science television programs and “outside the box” archaeology web sites. Professional anthropologists seem to avoid the issue, but there is substantial evidence that at least some of the folklore about giants was true.

As European settlers pushed across North America in the late 1700s and 1800s, newspapers periodically printed stories about giant skeletons being found. Some were described as being normal human beings, but very tall. Other skeletons had skulls with primitive hominid features such as were found in East Africa in the late 20th century. Very few, if any, ended up in the possession of forensic biologists, who could analyze the skeletal remains and verify their authenticity.

The most credible stories of giant skeletons were concentrated in the Appalachians, Cumberland Plateau and Ohio Basin. They were typically found in graves lined with stone slabs or field stones. These graves corresponded to an indigenous culture later recognized by professional archaeologists. It was known as the Stone Box Grave Culture. For example, The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee by John Haywood discussed the discovery in 1821 in White County, TN of seven feet tall skeletons in stone lined sarcophaguses in a burial area that also included skeletal remains of normal size.

Native American tribes of the Midwest had legends of lightly pigmented, yellow-haired or red-haired giants living in the Great Lakes Region or southern Canada, who occasionally traveled southward into their territories. Some encounters were benign and some resulted in warfare. The Cherokees claimed to have eliminated the last “white Indians” while still living in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Pioneers entering the West in the middle and late 1800s sometimes found what they assumed were giant fossilized human skeletons along exposed banks and in caves. Skulls were described as being much thicker than modern humans. Some reports claimed that the skulls had double-rows of teeth. No human skulls with such features have been found by professional archaeologists in North American locations. They may be found in the future, however.

Several Native American tribes in the West have legends of past confrontations with lightly pigmented giants with either blond or red hair. The most detailed stories come from the Paiutes, who claimed that the giants were cannibals, who hunted Paiutes for food. The Paiutes supposedly attacked the giants repeatedly until their numbers were reduced to a handful. According to the Paiutes, the surviving giants were cornered in a cave then either shot with arrows or asphyxiated by setting a fire at the entrance.

There are numerous photographs of enormous skeletons on the web. Most can easily be discerned as hoaxes. While stories of eight to twelve feet tall Caucasian skeletons may be exaggerations, there are several reports and discoveries that appear to give credence to belief that exceptionally tall people did live in North and South America prior to the arrival of Spanish explorers.

The father of his country would never lie!

In 1754, George Washington was colonel of the Virginia Colonial militia. When open hostilities broke out with France, he was ordered to supervise construction of a fort in Winchester, VA. It was named Fort Loudon. Laborers digging the fort’s foundation immediately uncovered a cemetery containing seven feet tall skeletons and what appeared to be Native American artifacts. The skeletons were viewed and reported by Washington. It is not known what happened to them. Part of Fort Loudon remains today in Downtown Winchester and is open to the public as a museum.

Washington’s discovery gives much credibility to the reports of seven feet tall skeletons being discovered in West Virginia, Kentucky, southern Ohio and southern Indiana. However, several amateur historians have carried the factuality of the Fort Loudon skeletons too far, by assuming that these people built the Adena and Hopewell mounds. The skeletons of the peoples associated with the Adena and Hopewell mounds are very different than those described as being seven feet tall. Several books and web sites precede even further into fantasyland by assigning tribal names, or even the names of leaders to these skeletons. No writing has ever been found in association with the giant skeletons. None of the skeletons found in Winchester of the mountainous region to its west, have ever been studied by anthropologists to detrmine their ethnicity. Since they no longer exist, it is impossible to label them either Native American, European or African.

Hernando de Soto Expedition

In the early spring of 1541 de Soto’s army traveled from the Florida Panhandle to Middle Georgia. Its officers immediately noted that the peoples in that region were more advanced culturally and averaged a foot taller than the Spanish. These were the Okonee and Tamatli branches of the Muskogean Culture – ancestors of the Creek Indians. The Spanish called them Los Indios Gigantes . . . the Giant Indians. De Soto’s chroniclers claimed that some Great Suns (Chief Priests) of the ancestral Creek provinces were seven feet tall. To a 5 ft.– 4 in. Spanish soldier, such a man would indeed appear to be a giant.

During the mid-20th century, archaeologists found seven feet tall skeletons in royal burials at Ocmulgee National Monument and Etowah Mounds National Historic Landmark. Both these town sites were ancestral to the Creek Indians, so the stories of the Spanish are quite plausible. Creek men today, especially in northern Alabama and Georgia, tend to be exceptionally tall.

The Province of Duhare (DuH’Eire)

In early 1521, Francisco Gordillo and Pedro de Quejo secretly sailed ships to the Carolina coast to capture Native American slaves and scout out potential locations for new colonies. They captured 70 Chicora to bring back to Hispaniola as slaves. While Gordillo and Quejo treated the Chicora Indians with treachery, their relations with another province, Duhare, were amiable.

The inhabitants of Duhare were described as being Europeans, who seemed to possess few metal tools. They had red to brown hair, tan skin and gray eyes. The men wore full beards and were much taller than the Spanish. The houses and pottery of Duhare were apparently similar to those of American Indians.

In many respects, the Duhare had similar lifestyles to neighboring American Indian provinces, for one exception . . . They raised many types of livestock including chickens, ducks, geese and deer. According to all Spanish sources, the Duhare maintained large herds of domesticated deer and made cheese from deer milk! To scholars studying the account in the past 500 years, dairy deer seemed totally implausible. However, several Gaelic tribes in Ireland and Scotland did develop domesticated, dairy deer before dairy cows were introduced by English monks. Several Spanish sources, including de Ayllón, stated that the Duhare owned some horses.

The people of Duhare were also skilled farmers. They grew large quantities of Indian corn, plus another grain, which the Spanish did not recognize. They also grew several varieties of potatoes and all the other vegetables that had been developed in the New World.

The king of Duhare was named Datha. He was described by the Spanish as being a giant . . . the largest man they had ever seen. He had wife as tall as him. Datha had brightly colored paint or tattoos on his skin that seemed to distinguish him from the commoners. Duhare can either be translated as “di-hAicher – place of the Clan Hare” . . . or if the Duhare came from west of the Shannon River, it meant, “du’hEir – place of the Irish.” Datha was a standard Medieval Irish Gaelic word that means “painted.” Since the Spanish recorded that he covered his skin with pigments or tattoos, as was traditional among the Celts, this name makes perfect sense.

The physical appearance of the people of Duhare exactly matches descriptions made by Midwestern Indians of the red-haired giants in Canada. It is quite plausible that the people of Duhare were not the only Irish Gaelic Caucasians in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus.


Large skeletons discovered in Nevada Cave

During 1918, archaeologists working in the Lovelock Cave owned by a guano mining operation discovered over 10,000 Neolithic artifacts. Many of the artifacts such as stone tools and sandals seem too large to have been made by standard sized humans. A man and women’s skeletons were retrieved in addition to several detached human bones. The male was said to be eight feet tall. Supposedly, most of the artifacts were lost in a fire, but the skulls are on display at the Humboldt County Museum in Winnemucca, Nevada. There is no doubt that the skull is Homo sapiens, but dwarfs contemporary Native American skulls. According to archaeologist, Steve McNallen, the proportions of the skull resemble the skull of Kennewick Man. Several Caucasian-like skulls dating before 6000 BC have also been found in Florida, but they are not supersized.

While the existence of seven feet tall Native Americans has been proven by archaeologists, the presence of equally tall Caucasians in North America prior to 1492, can not yet be considered a fact. The Spanish archives must be corroborated with the authentication of a complete 7 feet tall or more Caucasian skeleton found in a location that can be radiocarbon dated, before such a situation can be classified as definitely true.

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Posted October 4, 2013 by kitokinimi in Uncategorized

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Rewriting the dawn of civilization

Gobekli_Tepe 1

Seven thousand years before Stonehenge was Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey, where you’ll find ring upon ring of T-shaped stone towers arranged  in a circle. Around 11,600 B.C. hundreds of people gathered on this mound, year after year, possibly for centuries.

There are plenty of mysteries on this hill.  Some of the rocks weigh 16 tons, but archaeologists can find no homes, no hearths, no water source, and no sign of a town or village to support the hundreds of workers who built the rings of towers. The people apparently, unthinkably really, were nomadic, as far as we know, they had no wheels, and no beasts of burden. True hunter gatherers, whose first heavy building project was not a home to fend off the elements, but a religious sacred site.

Perhaps we should not be so surprised, after all, we know the pyramids, the largest and oldest surviving buildings didn’t house people or grain either –  the only humans they keep warm were dead ones. In a sense, the theme repeats. It takes extraordinary expertise and effort to move tons of rock, especially if you don’t have a trolley, let alone a crane, yet seemingly the first priority for our ancestors was not food or shelter, but just some respite from daily overbearing fears. Could it be some other reason than fear like the “spectacle” or festival (mentioned in the article) or the ever reliable search for status? Maybe, but it’s hard to believe these circles could be about power trips or parties if the there is no permanent settlement to reward the hierarchy.

Gobekli_Tepe 1

Göbekli Tepe was built much earlier [than Stonehenge] and is made not from roughly hewn blocks but from cleanly carved limestone pillars splashed with bas-reliefs of animals—a cavalcade of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars. The assemblage was built some 11,600 years ago, seven millennia before the Great Pyramid of Giza. It contains the oldest known temple. Indeed, Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known example of monumental architecture—the first structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut. When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.

“Within minutes of getting there,” Schmidt says, he realized that he was looking at a place where scores or even hundreds of people had worked in millennia past. The limestone slabs were not Byzantine graves but something much older.

Inches below the surface the team struck an elaborately fashioned stone. Then another, and another—a ring of standing pillars. As the months and years went by, Schmidt’s team, a shifting crew of German and Turkish graduate students and 50 or more local villagers, found a second circle of stones, then a third, and then more. Geomagnetic surveys in 2003 revealed at least 20 rings piled together, higgledy-piggledy, under the earth.

Puzzle piled upon puzzle as the excavation continued. For reasons yet unknown, the rings at Göbekli Tepe seem to have regularly lost their power, or at least their charm. Every few decades people buried the pillars and put up new stones—a second, smaller ring, inside the first. Sometimes, later, they installed a third. Then the whole assemblage would be filled in with debris, and an entirely new circle created nearby. The site may have been built, filled in, and built again for centuries.

“These people were foragers,” Schmidt says, people who gathered plants and hunted wild animals. “Our picture of foragers was always just small, mobile groups, a few dozen people. They cannot make big permanent structures, we thought, because they must move around to follow the resources. They can’t maintain a separate class of priests and craft workers, because they can’t carry around all the extra supplies to feed them. Then here is Göbekli Tepe, and they obviously did that.”

Gobekli_Tepe 1

Discovering that hunter-gatherers had constructed Göbekli Tepe was like finding that someone had built a 747 in a basement with an X-Acto knife. “I, my colleagues, we all thought, What? How?” Schmidt said. Paradoxically, Göbekli Tepe appeared to be both a harbinger of the civilized world that was to come and the last, greatest emblem of a nomadic past that was already disappearing. The accomplishment was astonishing, but it was hard to understand how it had been done or what it meant. “In 10 or 15 years,” Schmidt predicts, “Göbekli Tepe will be more famous than Stonehenge. And for good reason.”

I can’t say I’m totally convinced of the whole these, perhaps the wooden huts blew away or are buried under the hill next-door. But certainly the old neat theory is dead. It was thought that the Neolithic revolution began with farming. To manage the farms, people needed permanent housing. To manage the stores of grain, they needed a stable society. But some settlements have been discovered from as far back as 13,000 B.C. (around where Palestinians, Lebanese, and Israelis reside). So another theory suggests villages came first, then farming and religion.

Göbekli Tepe, to Schmidt’s way of thinking, suggests a reversal of that scenario: The construction of a massive temple by a group of foragers is evidence that organized religion could have come before the rise of agriculture and other aspects of civilization. It suggests that the human impulse to gather for sacred rituals arose as humans shifted from seeing themselves as part of the natural world to seeking mastery over it.

I’m not too sold on theories of humans “shifting” to seek mastery and what not either (what human didn’t want mastery over cold, hunger and disease?) So I think the motivating force is straight out fear. The sentient empathetic intelligent soul needs a salve for all the pain that would have been a regular part of Paleolithic life.


Today the closest known wild ancestors of modern einkorn wheat are found on the slopes of Karaca Dağ, a mountain just 60 miles northeast of Göbekli Tepe. In other words, the turn to agriculture celebrated by V. Gordon Childe may have been the result of a need that runs deep in the human psyche, a hunger that still moves people today to travel the globe in search of awe-inspiring sights.


Posted October 4, 2013 by kitokinimi in Uncategorized

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First man to hear people before they speak   Leave a comment


                                                        Stuck in a badly dubbed movie <i>(Image: Richard Chung/Reuters)</i>

“I told my daughter her living room TV was out of sync. Then I noticed the kitchen telly was also dubbed badly. Suddenly I noticed that her voice was out of sync too. It wasn’t the TV, it was me.”

Ever watched an old movie, only for the sound to go out of sync with the action? Now imagine every voice you hear sounds similarly off-kilter – even your own. That’s the world PH lives in. Soon after surgery for a heart problem, he began to notice that something wasn’t quite right.

“I was staying with my daughter and they like to have the television on in their house. I turned to my daughter and said ‘you ought to get a decent telly, one where the sound and programme are synchronised’. I gave a little chuckle. But they said ‘there’s nothing wrong with the TV’.”

Puzzled, he went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. “They’ve got another telly up on the wall and it was the same. I went into the lounge and I said to her ‘hey you’ve got two TVs that need sorting!’.”

That was when he started to notice that his daughter’s speech was out of time with her lip movements too. “It wasn’t the TV, it was me. It was happening in real life.”

PH is the first confirmed case of someone who hears people speak before registering the movement of their lips. His situation is giving unique insights into how our brains unify what we hear and see.

It’s unclear why PH’s problem started when it did – but it may have had something to do with having acute pericarditis, inflammation of the sac around the heart, or the surgery he had to treat it.

Brain scans after the timing problems appeared showed two lesions in areas thought to play a role in hearing, timing and movement. “Where these came from is anyone’s guess,” says PH. “They may have been there all my life or as a result of being in intensive care.”

Disconcerting delay

Several weeks later, PH realised that it wasn’t just other people who were out of sync: when he spoke, he registered his words before he felt his jaw make the movement. “It felt like a significant delay, it sort of snuck up on me. It was very disconcerting. At the time I didn’t know whether the delay was going to get bigger, but it seems to have stuck at about a quarter of a second.”

Light and sound travel at different speeds, so when someone speaks, visual and auditory inputs arrive at our eyes and ears at different times. The signals are then processed at different rates in the brain. Despite this, we normally perceive the events as happening simultaneously – but how the brain achieves this is unclear.

To investigate PH’s situation, Elliot Freeman at City University London and colleagues performed a temporal order judgement test. PH was shown clips of people talking and was asked whether the voice came before or after the lip movements. Sure enough, he said it came before, and to perceive them as synchronous the team had to play the voice about 200 milliseconds later than the lip movements.

The team then carried out a second, more objective test based on the McGurk illusion. This involves listening to one syllable while watching someone mouth another; the combination makes you perceive a third syllable.

Since PH hears people speaking before he sees their lips move, the team expected the illusion to work when they delayed the voice. So they were surprised to get the opposite result: presenting the voice 200 ms earlier than the lip movements triggered the illusion, suggesting that his brain was processing the sight before the sound in this particular task.

And it wasn’t only PH who gave these results. When 37 others were tested on both tasks, many showed a similar pattern, though none of the mismatches were noticeable in everyday life.

Many clocks

Freeman says this implies that the same event in the outside world is perceived by different parts of your brain as happening at different times. This suggests that, rather than one unified “now”, there are many clocks in the brain – two of which showed up in the tasks – and that all the clocks measure their individual “nows” relative to their average.

In PH’s case, one or more of these clocks has been significantly slowed – shifting his average – possibly as a result of the lesions. Freeman thinks PH’s timing discrepancies may be too large and have happened too suddenly for him to ignore or adapt to, resulting in him being aware of the asynchrony in everyday life. He may perceive just one of his clocks because it is the only one he has conscious access to, says Freeman.

PH says that in general he has learned to live with the sensory mismatch but admits he has trouble in noisy places or at large meetings. Since he hears himself speak before he feels his mouth move, does he ever feel like he’s not in control of his own voice? “No, I’m definitely sure it’s me that’s speaking,” he says, “it’s just a strange sensation.”

Help may be at hand: Freeman is looking for a way to slow down PH’s hearing so it matches what he is seeing. PH says he would be happy to trial a treatment, but he’s actually not that anxious to fix the problem. “It’s not life-threatening,” he says. “You learn to live with these things as you get older. I don’t expect my body to work perfectly.”


Journal reference: Cortex,

Posted October 4, 2013 by kitokinimi in Uncategorized

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